Many full-time wheelchair users are accustomed to able-bodied people deciding that they are simply too fragile too attempt activities which the wheelchair users have no problem completing. If some people in individual lives got to make decisions for them, no one would ever go out when it was so much as drizzling or attempt something as basic as going to the mall on a public bus by themselves. Most of the time, the wheelchair user is right when they say they can safely complete an activity.
However, the way things usually work is not the way they always will. If you’re in a wheelchair you probably learned to ignore most people’s assessment of your capacity. A lot of the time, this default response is both justified and healthy. Other people shouldn’t be making life decisions for you. As the famous slogan of the South African disability rights movement proclaims, “Nothing about us without us!”
Due to the fact that many people with disabilities (PWD) are so accustomed to responding to, suggestions about what they should and should not do by simply ignoring the suggestion maker, this is what often happens when it’s really not advisable. This is especially true when the person is not in the room with you to argue for the reasoning behind their point. It’s really so much easier to ignore a weatherman on emergency broadcast warning your friend, family member, colleague or employee.
However, as odd weather breaks out in every nook and cranny of America this week, be warned that these weather-related warnings are not ones you should ignore. In the Northeast, snow, rain, or a mix and could include ice falling from the sky are likely until tomorrow morning. People from Virginia to Texas face storms that could involve at times severe wind gusts or hail, and even isolated tornadoes. Much of the middle of the country is still digging out from yesterday’s snow and ice storm, as well as facing an onslaught of fog today. Individuals can look up there area here for exact weather details.
Too often snow removal crews pile the slush they remove from the roads into curb cuts which make sidewalks impassible for people in wheelchairs. Perhaps road crews won’t even be around to shoveling any sidewalks in your area because they are so focused on the roads. Neither of these situations are legal, but they do happen and to pretend they don’t is stupidity. There is also a new storm system gathering force on the West Coast. This new system will be in by Wednesday, Jan 28.
So what is a person supposed to do during this whether induced, non-chosen, non-vacation? How do you stay sane?
1. Catch up on phone calls, e-mails, Facebook and twitter updates.
2. Read a good book or watch a good movie.
3. Find activities to do online such as playing freerice.com or online Scrabble. Intellectually stimulate yourself while you help others and/or beat cabin fever.
4. This is also a good time to evaluate how you’re doing on all those New Year’s resolutions you made. Be honest. Put all that snow bound self-reflective time to good use.
5. Do you have an idea for a short story or painting? Get started!
6. As long as the power remains on, turn your cable box to a music channel and boogie-woogie hardcore for exercise.
7. Remember this, too, shall pass!
So, now you’re armed with sanity enhancing activities, but what do you need to do to actually stay safe whatever the weather brings?
1. Have cash on hand. I know credit cards charge a lot of interest if you take out a cash advance, but, as the East Coast October blizzard of 2011 showed no power means no credit card machines.
2. ensure there is room in the house. If that’s a problem for you (since most people on benefits don’t get a check until Friday), call up your local food pantry, as well as your friends and neighbors e and explain. It’s better to swallow a little pride than to compound the already dangerous situation by being weak, hungry, and less able to assist those assisting you.
3. Make sure that emergency personnel are aware of your existence and, in the event, of an evacuation what you need, such as a wheelchair accessible vehicle or a place that will take your service animal without making a fuss.
4. Make sure you have all the medication you will need for several days. Include over-the-counter medicines in this list.
5. Charge everything from wheelchairs to cell phones and their backups.
6. Figure out what will happen if your personal care assistants (PCA) cannot make their regularly scheduled shifts. Is it possible for you to have someone stay over? Do you have a friend or family member who could assist you in the event of an emergency?
7. Listen and follow the advice of the emergency broadcast system.
Be safe! Be self-empowered! Be good to each other!